Graphite developer Syrah Resources has clinched a second supply deal with Japanese major Marubeni Corporation, this time for 50,000 t/y of spherical graphite. The five-year offtake agreement would afford Marubeni the exclusive right to import and sell coated and uncoated spherical graphite from Syrah’s Balama mine (Mozambique), in Japan and Korea. Marubeni’s clients include some of the largest battery manufacturers in those two countries.
“This agreement with Marubeni represents the largest spherical graphite offtake agreement that has been signed globally to date”, said Syrah Managing Director, Tolga Kumova. The offtake agreement follows on an earlier deal between the two companies in which Marubeni had agreed to buy 20,000 t/y of flake graphite.
“Marubeni has worked closely with Syrah to conduct premarketing activities in Japan and Korea for nearly 18 months. Extensive test work has been performed on numerous samples provided by the company, and results show that Balama spherical graphite is superior to current material supplied from China, exceeding customers’ expectations”, commented Marubeni General Manager, Ryoichi Mano. As the latest offtake agreement only covers Japan and Korea, Syrah believed further opportunities were available in China, North America and Europe.
The company has completed an internal economic assessment on a proposed spherical graphite facility in the US, which is underpinned by growing interest by major lithium-ion battery manufacturers. “The Marubeni agreement has validated our strategy and steadfast belief that the lithium ion battery market will be the major source of growth for the graphite sector in the upcoming years”, said Kumova. A 2015 feasibility study estimated that the Balama project would require capital investment of about US$138-million to deliver a 380,000 t/y operation. During the first 10 years of operation, the mine is expected to produce at an average rate of 365,000 t/y graphite concentrate and deliver a free cash flow of US$160-million a year.
Source: Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly
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